Nepal experience sparks passion for giving
Trekking through Nepal and dancing with locals was never on my bucket list. As a business student I hadn’t expected my experience to send me global, yet this humbling opportunity arose from joining the Griffith Business School’s Student Leadership Program (GBSSLP).
Along with thirteen business school students, the Nepal Community Engagement Project allowed us to visit the areas of Kathmandu, Pokhara, Thamel and Bhaktapur. It was an experience that helped me appreciate just how fortunate we are in Australia and opened my eyes to the world around us. The trip was a combination of exploring Nepal’s natural beauty, interacting with locals and working alongside students – cultural appreciation doesn’t get more real.
Pokhara was one of my favourite destinations during the trip. On our first day we walked a fair distance to the top of the Peace Pagoda, which was a challenge in itself but well worth overlooking the city. I loved how the streets were vibrant as live music filled the streets, along with colourful lights to decorate the streets in celebration of a five-day festival.
My fondest memory abroad was the project component of our trip, where we taught at Swapna Vatika. The school was established with the goal of providing education to underprivileged kids. Here, the entire business group split into teaching areas. We helped teach photography and social media, arts and crafts, drama, dance and sport. I was part of the photography and social media group, whose aim was to teach the importance and awareness around using social media. As well as donating a collection of digital cameras and iPads we helped them grow their photography skills. It may seem strange to some but watching the Nepalese children roaming around their school, with a grin from ear to ear, after capturing their images, brought a smile to my face.
Our key project whilst there was to commence the initial stages of creating a vegetable garden, where the area contained overgrown weeds, endless rubbish and had become an unsafe area for the students to use. Our days consisted of teaching for a few hours, and then tackling the garden patch, removing weeds and rubbish and turning the soil in readiness for crops to be grown. I can’t wait to see the final product – especially since various Griffith groups will be visiting to help later in the year.
While I filled a role as a “teacher” I believe the kids at Swapna Vatika taught me more than I had taught them. I gained a greater appreciation of the value of education.
From learning Nepalese dance moves to trying various traditional dishes, I had the time of my life. I am grateful to have had the opportunity while still studying at University. Since returning I have noticed a shift in my outlook. It has helped reaffirm my passion for social justice and sparked a real desire to work for an organisation contributing in a positive sense to help others. On reflection I realised how the project had the power to unite people, impart kindness and compassion, and enable fourteen students the ability to contribute to society at large, helping to make a difference. I highly encourage any student considering an international or volunteering experience to apply!
For information on outbound programs and volunteering experiences here are a few starting points:
Griffith’s outbound programs: https://www.griffith.edu.au/go-global
Griffith Business School Leadership Program: https://www.griffith.edu.au/business-government/griffith-business-school/student-opportunities/leadership-programs/gbs-student-leadership-program
Challenges Abroad Australia: https://www.challengesabroad.com.au/
Student Guild Volunteering: https://www.gugcstudentguild.com.au/volunteer/
By Madison Harding,
Bachelor of Business (Marketing) and Commerce (Finance)